PIA: ‘Great people to fly with’…

MAMOSA Report — A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) air hostess was arrested on Monday night in Paris for shoplifting at a shopping center, PIA sources told DawnNews.

The air hostess, Afshan Khalid, was spotted by CCTV cameras as she stole items, prompting the shopping center’s security personnel to apprehend her and hand her over to the police, PIA sources told DawnNews TV.

Afshan was detained by French authorities for five hours and released after PIA’s station manager in Paris posted her bail.

The management of the national carrier has taken notice of the incident and have ordered a full investigation into the matter, Yaqoob PIA’s general manager flight services, told the channel.

Earlier this month, PIA admitted carrying seven extra passengers on board — they were allowed to stand in the aisles on its flight from Karachi to Madina, in complete disregard to local and international safety regulations and flying standards.

This is the first time the airline is known to have boarded extra passengers on a flight, the paper wrote. Not so, says a Pakistani-American who choose to maintain anonymity. According to him, 26 years back (in 1991) he was asked by PIA staff at JFK airport in New York to travel to Paris standing in the aisle — an 8-hour flight, as “my seat was not confirmed for unknown reasons from New York to Paris but it was confirmed only on PIA’s connecting flight from Paris to Karachi.”

“Ever since that 1991 incident, I don’t fly by PIA on international travels. I’m not one of the “great people to fly with,” the gentleman said, recounting PIA’s iconic brand slogan of the 60s and 70s. “I wrote to the top brass, but never heard from them,” he said. “PIA’s human resource needs culture training,” he quipped.

In the latest incident, passengers were allowed on the 20 January flight from Karachi to Medina despite every seat being filled, the airline said. Staff had issued additional handwritten boarding passes, the Dawn newspaper reported. According to reports, no punitive action against the airline or its staffers has been taken yet for putting the passengers’ lives at risk.

Here are few more embarrassing incidents:

PIA’s expat CEO barred from leaving country, pending ‘corruption’ investigation

The German chief executive of the cash-strapped national carrier has been put on the exit control list and barred from traveling abroad following the initiation of a probe into corruption charges against him. The Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said at a press briefing in Islamabad this month that the name of Bernd Hildenbrand has been put on the exit control list (ECL).

British fighter jets divert London-bound PIA flight

British fighter jets in February diverted a PIA flight which had been bound from Lahore to London’s Heathrow airport, due to a “disruptive passenger.” The diversion followed British authorities receiving a “vague security threat through an anonymous phone call”, airline spokesman Danyal Gilani said.

PIA air hostess arrested with 2.5kg gold

In August 2016, a PIA air hostess was arrested for trying to smuggle 2.5kg gold to the United States.

According to an official, airhostess Nuzhat Bokhari was going to New York on PIA flight PK-721 from the Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore when customs officials detected 2.5kg gold in her luggage. They took her into custody.

PIA spokesman Daniyal Gilani told Dawn that strict action would be taken against the airhostess if found guilty. The same year Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) arrested over a dozen PIA employees for allegedly smuggling 6kg heroin to Dubai from Lahore. The PIA administration sacked one employee for his involvement in the case.

PIA airhostess held with drugs

In September 2014, A PIA airhostess was arrested in Italy after drugs were allegedly seized on her at the Milan airport. Officials said the airhostess was on board a Lahore-Milan-Paris flight. Authorities at the Milan airport detected illegal drugs in her luggage. She was handed over to police for investigation. The flight left for Paris according to the schedule. “We are awaiting the report about the incident from authorities in Italy,” an official told media.

These are only a few mentioned here. Googling can help discern the embarrassing trend.

In a related note, the Senate’s Special Committee on PIA on Wednesday slammed the national flag carrier for its poor performance and prevailing corruption likening the airline to a local bus service due to poor flight standards.”PIA has been transformed into Khan Bus Service, in which people fly to their destination standing in plane’s aisle,” Senator Tahir Mashhadi said. “The national airline is functional because of prayers, while animals’ sacrifices are offered for the safety of its planes” he added.

Senator Mushahidullah, the chairman of the committee, lambasted, “The CEO, who sold out a PIA aircraft for just Rs5.1 million, is not willing to respond to queries”.

The members of the committee said that there had been political interference in national institutions, including the PIA, in past ten years, which they said resulted in appointments on a political basis.

They added that there had also been evidence of corruption in the airlines’ catering and ticketing services.

Meanwhile, the beleaguered foreign chief executive of the airline said PIA’s total debt stood at Rs186bn at the end of 2016 and has appealed to the authorities to help nurse the airline back to profitability. However, it would take at least three years to return the company to profitability and to truly transform PIA’s fortunes would take even longer, Hildenbrand said.

“What went wrong in 25 years you don’t change in half a year. Impossible.”

We hear you…

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